9/2/03: Coaches Corner Recap with Chuck Amato

Tuesday's inaugural Coaches Corner at Playmaker's saw an overflow throng jam the restaurant to hear Tony Haynes and Chuck Amato.

Haynes kicked off the session by awarding Chuck a nice hand-picked bottle of Italian wine in honor of his 4-0 record in season openers. Tony also joked that Amato always came to the first session since he knew it would follow a W and he wouldn't have to face the tough questions that often arise at Coaches Corner. Chuck sprinkled all of his answers with his usual self-deprecating humor, including a comment about liking "one, or two, or 3 glasses of wine from time to time." After that, they got down to business.

Haynes asked about injuries, and Amato said we had no "game loss injuries" meaning several nicks and scrapes, but nobody would miss a game because of it. Later, somebody asked about Colmer, and Amato revealed he was flying to NYC today to see a specialist in this ailment with NFL experience. He also reiterated the somewhat mysterious nature of Colmer's numbness, but said our medical staff had been on top of it from the get-go.

Chuck commented on the WCU game by saying our OL did really well, when you consider that only Jed Paulsen was playing the same position as last year.

As to our DL, he said they didn't play as bad as he originally made it sound, particularly when he realized the "max protection" that was generally used on every passing play. His problem with them was they "didn't fight", signified by the late 2nd quarter TD following TA's fumble. "That's why you play D, to stop the other team when you really need to. And then we had ‘em on 4th down, and we should have tackled their guy for a loss, but he outfought us, several of our players, and got the first down."

Chuck then revealed the timing couldn't have been worse for the D, since they were headed to the locker room immediately after that TD, where they were treated to a scene. Chuck said that the "other coaches hadn't ever seen me like that." Must have been some halftime talk since we've heard about his famous "motivational" halftime speeches before. Remember Levar Fisher's statements about Chuck's halftime speech during the MicronPC.com Bowl in 2000.

Somebody asked about lessons the young DL learned in the game and he said, "Yeah, that they should be redshirting! They realized you can't get away with your old high school tactics in college, just like you've got to do even more at the next level. It's all about technique – you've got to play low and use leverage."

Chuck & Tony took it upon themselves to talk about Tramain Hall. Chuck made a very important point, and the one that makes Tramain so endeared to the Wolfpack Nation. "If he never catches a pass, or scores a touchdown, he has made his presence known by what he did. People forget he could have stayed in high school, and gone to Miami, and he'd have a National Championship ring right now. When he had to go off to Los Angeles, and then couldn't play last year, and people started recruiting him again … he could have gone to Ohio State, … and he'd have a ring from there. But he wanted to come to Raleigh. And he cried in the locker room before the first game last year because he wanted to play so bad. But I told him the time would go by fast, and it has. And he has never wavered, and his parents have been with us the whole way. And that's the past now, and here we are."

Chuck admitted the first play had been drawn up since before fall practice started. He cracked that the tears in Tramain's eyes in the tunnel were because "I had my hands around his throat telling him he better not drop that first pass." He discussed that the following plays were where Philip made the right checkoffs "like he has for four years."

Talked then turned to Rivers, and as always Coach's love for the Senior QB was evident. Haynes jokingly asked if Philip had to run any gassers since he did have some incompletions. "Oh, yeah, 4 of ‘em for all 4 incompletions. Cause I told him, if you want to win the Heisman, you've got to be perfect!" He later related (and seemed perfectly serious) that the AFCA is seriously considering allowing 5 years to play all 5 years – so kids that come in for an injured player the last game and get like 25 snaps don't burn an entire year of eligibility." Then, in typical Amato fashion, he let on that he had even told Philip he was pushing to make it retroactive. Rivers said OK, so long as he didn't have to go through spring practice, and Amato agreed, adding "You don't even have to go through 2-a-days!"

Somebody in the crowd then talked about how they were a 49'ers fan, and had been to 3 Super Bowls and Rivers was as good (or poised?) as any of the Niner greats. Apparently, his comment, or question if there ever was one, included a reference to the Ole Miss QB. Amato replied "what's his last name? Manning? Well, Philip's the son of a coach, but I guess he doesn't have the name of a one-time great QB, so he's at a disadvantage there. But I tell you what, I wouldn't trade him for another one out there…'cause we can't do that." (possible subtle dig at someone in C-H? I think not.)

Someone asked about Jay Davis, and Amato said he wanted to only play him the first half, but then he remembered "year-end" stuff (presumably the Heisman, and I imagine his mindframe at halftime, too!) and let him go another series. He really hopes to get Jay in "a bunch of games and real time. We don't just want him handing off and when he passes, running for his life back there."

Someone asked about the freshmen. While Amato rattled off nearly every name of young men who played, and gave the obligatory "Mario will be big time", he also hit on McCargo, Tulloch (a faster and better Thunder Dan), Maurice Charles (like S. Price, he would have started if he came in the spring), and noted Tank Tyler had dropped from 315 to 282 – "cause I like ‘em to be able to move." Someone later asked about Rumph, and Chuck said his leg injury is coming along, but more importantly he's up to 235 lbs. – "he's a linebacker now" (With a gleam in his eye).

Chuck also talked about Brian Clark's progress. How he has the size and speed of Jerricho Cotchery. Said Clark emulates J-Co, the same way the QB's watch Rivers, and the same way "T.A. emulates Amato."

Someone asked about Wake Forest's "questionable tactics." Amato quickly replied that during the game, everybody does things they're not allowed to do "including the head coaches" laughing at himself. But then he got serious and said, "It's fine. I'm not going to tell our men to watch out for it, because it's legal, and when you talk about it, you're talking about an excuse. And when you try to blame someone with an excuse, there's one finger pointing at them and two back at you."

Chuck talked about the difficulty of preparing for an offense like Wake Forest's – part wishbone, part option without actually optioning. Said Wake outscored their opponents by "like 50 points in the first quarter all last year", a testament to the adjustments needed to stop them. Said the scout team would be critical this week, and he wouldn't hesitate to take somebody –watching out for injury of course – from the two deep if they were the best athletes to act like WFU.

Somebody asked about Richard Washington – not challenging Chuck to reveal anything – and whether we would see him make an impact like Tramain did in Week One. Amato replied that yes, "he can do a lot of things like Tramain, particularly if he runs in the right direction". Apparently, one of the problems is that sometimes RW goes backwards 30 yards to pick up 5 yards. Obviously, Chuck didn't admit that we'd be going to RW on the first series like we did Tramain.

Chuck also mentioned how nice the Walk of Champions was, how great it was to see the stadium packed on a holiday weekend, how "you wouldn't catch me going in those green things" (meaning the temporary bleachers", how much red was there, and we can create an atmosphere like "where I came from". And "We need to get that end zone finished by next year!"

The program ended by somebody asking Chuck about the hit on Dexter Reid. After a loud laugh from the huge crowd, Chuck slyly answered "Who does he play for?," and then commented that he had seen the play on "SportsCenter" and "I already told ‘em if anybody does that to our team, DON'T show it again on the replay screen (jumbotron)."

And so, the first Coaches Corner of the year, highlighted by Coach Amato's trademark wit and style, came to an end.

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